Packaged food category not likely to grow: Analyst

Key Points
  • Packaged food companies might have 1 percent growth, "if they're lucky," says Ken Goldman, food and retail analyst at J.P. Morgan.
  • Goldman doesn't think reports of a of the Kraft Heinz-Campbell Soup merger will actually happen.
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J.P. Morgan Chase food and retail analyst Ken Goldman told CNBC that the packaged food sector is not likely to grow.

"Unless something dramatic happens," Goldman said Monday on "Power Lunch."

"I would count on very limited, you know, zero percent, maybe 1 percent growth with population, if they’re lucky," he said.

He said most packaged food companies "would be thrilled to have a positive number for their organic sales."

His comments come on the heels of a report that Kraft Heinz is interested in buying Campbell Soup. As a result shares of the soup company soared by about 10 percent Monday.

But, Goldman said Campbell has struggled of late and even acquired more debt in its efforts to expand. The company's stock was trading around $42 on Monday, down significantly from its 2016 highs of more than $60 a share.

More reason why Goldman said he doesn't think the deal is likely to happen. Kraft, he said, would be "taking on an awful lot of risk in doing this."

"If Kraft were to be interested in Campbell, we think it would be almost purely from a financial perspective," Goldman added. "Campbell Soup has many issues right now."

"Kraft would have to use its stock, its equity for its next large deal," he said.

A package of ConAgra Foods' Hebrew National brand beef franks.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Packaged food brands continue to struggle as specialty food stores, fresh food and online retailers such as Amazon, continue to take market share.

Still, Goldman told CNBC in May that "brands are hard to kill. It may feel like right now [brands] are dying. But they're not dead yet."

"Kraft might want the brands," Goldman said Monday. And, said he Campbell is still a good company.

"The Campbell Soup brand is iconic," he said.

— CNBC's Lauren Hirsch contributed to this report.

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